But situated six floors above the mayhem of the crossroads at Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung, the name is fitting. The hum, buzz and beeping horns of the rush-hour traffic may forever linger in the background, but it is far removed. Instead the breeze drifts soothingly across the outside terrace area of the café, its leafy surrounds and views across the city centre a relieving antidote to the bustle below.
Located directly across from Kumho Plaza and on the sixth floor of the OCB Building, the L-shaped terrace outside surrounds two glass fronted, wooden-framed aircon spaces indoors. An attempt has been made to not block out the view, and wherever you sit in this newly opened venue, you can spy the city, parks, greenery and buildings below. At night the view lights up with neon.
The indoor ceilings are high, too, the dark-wooden frame holding together the main building modeled on a traditional Japanese house.
According to Hien, the building with its French-style roof was also designed in the image of the cathedral just beyond, a miniature version. Once you see the connection, you understand the concept. “Everyone comments on it,” he adds. “It’s made entirely of natural wood.”
More Than Skin Deep
Central locations and views mean you should have to pay a little bit more for your drinks. But here a Vietnamese coffee starts at VND40,000 while the juices and shakes go for between VND50,000 and VND80,000, far from astronomical for downtown Saigon. Beers are reasonable, too, a bottled Tiger costing VND35,000.
Yet as with most contemporary cafés in this city, there’s also a focus on food. Here the menu takes on restaurant-size proportions, the cuisine decidedly Vietnamese. Once again, the prices are reasonable.
I tried the Hoi An spring rolls (cha gio Hoi An — VND75,000) with their rice-paper wraps substituted for banh trang, the crispy rice paper eaten with mi quang, the ubiquitous noodle soup from the Hoi An area. A nice, tasty variation. But the real winner was the seafood fried rice served in a pineapple (com chien thom hai san — VND110,000). Strikingly presented, the rice was moist, the seafood fresh and the taste rich with a hint of pineapple. A great choice.
There’s also hotpot, traditional Vietnamese cuisine and a range of fish, meat and vegetable dishes on the menu. Meaning that whether you’re here for a coffee, a juice or an evening meal, you will be well catered for. — Nick Ross
Café Tranquility is on the 6th Floor of the OCB Building, 41 Le Duan, Q1, on the corner of Le Duan and Hai Ba Trung